Sunday, Apr 23, 2017

Crisis: March for Science, North Korea, Trump's 100 Days, Erdogan

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1. Why I Will March for Science on Saturday
2. North Korea’s Message for Trump: We Will Protect Ourselves
     With Nuclear Weapons (Video)
3. Trump's First 100 Days: More Frightening, or More Pathetic?
4. Erdogan Leads His Country into the Abyss

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 23, 2017.

This is an ordinary
crisis log with four items and four links: Item 1 is about the march for science that was yesterday. I haven't seen any results yet, and I admit - having very much experience with Dutch "academically employed scientists" - that I am rather skeptical (but would like to be refuted); item 2 is about North Korea and the USA; item 3 is about Trump's first 100 days, but is not a good article; and item 4 is about Erdogan's winning the Turkish elections, which seems the end of Turkish democracy and law.
April 23: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today; but the Dutch site - of course! - is still stuck on April 15. These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with ""; if not, avoid them.)

And I have to add that about where my site on stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 2015. (Xs4all wants  immediate payment if you are a week behind. has been destroying my site now for over a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
1. Why I Will March for Science on Saturday

The first article today is by Laurie Garrett on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

On Saturday, scientists and their supporters will leave the sanitized comfort of their labs and academic environs to march in Washington, D.C., and more than 400 other cities and 100 countries around the world.

It all started with a tweeted picture of a child holding a pro-science sign at the Jan. 22 March for Women, followed by health educator Caroline Weinberg’s tweet, “Hell hath no fury like a scientist silenced,” and swiftly grew into the largest protest since the women’s event.

It is Sunday morning as I write this, and I have seen nothing as yet about the outcome.

Also, I should add that - in my opinion - there are now more people employed as "scientists" than there are people employed as scientists, and this is a fact that has grown worse and worse since 1980, although this is mostly a personal remark. (But I did study in and did get my degrees from the University of Amsterdam, that taught between 1977 and 1995 that "everybody knows that truth does NOT exist": I think I am right, and not only about the UvA, but being right and being popular are two very different things. I was one of the very few who protested against this insanity, and I am therefore rather skeptical about 'scientists'.)

There is also this:

Most of the leading scientific institutions in the United States are backing both propositions and urging their members to hit the streets on Saturday. From the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS, the publisher of Science) to the editorial board of Nature and the New York Academy of Sciences and its counterparts across the country, the admonishment is clear: Get out and march!

This is OK, but the following is silly, though I do not know whether that is Holt's fault:

“Scientists have to be reminded that the response to a challenge to science is not to retreat to the microscope, to the laboratory, to the ivory tower,” Rush Holt, CEO of the AAAS, said recently. “This requires vigorous defense.”

In fact, the normal response of scientists when faced by criticism is "to retreat to the microscope, to the laboratory, to the ivory tower" and that response is generally correct.

I agree that shutting down the money to do science is different, but my own experiences with "scientists" and scientists taught me that (i) nearly all have a middle class or upper middle class background; (ii) most scientists who are employed as such (also the "scientists") do earn a decent income; and (iii) in so far as they are radical,
the vast majority were radical only in their early twenties.

The annual February meeting of the AAAS found session after session overcome by anger and angst as researchers and science educators tried to comprehend how America in 2017 had seemingly become as anti-science as Trofim Lysenko’s Soviet supporters in the Kremlin in the 1930s to 1950s. Those Soviets blindly followed the idiotic agronomist Lysenko’s pseudo-biological claims to purge and execute thousands of scientists across the USSR for the sin of believing in Charles Darwin, evolution, Gregor Mendel, and genetics.

No, that seems bullshit to me: Stalin's Soviet Union was a dictatorship and had been a dictatorship for quite a long time, and "America in 2017" just cannot be decently compared with (in the present style, also) "the Soviet Union in 1947".

Besides, if "America in 2017 had seemingly become as anti-science" as the Soviet Union was (in biology) in 1947, then one of the main reasons must be the systematic
neglect of the vast majority of American scientists to explain why science is important
and needs investments.

I agree the situation for science in the USA is not good, but it cannot be compared - as is - with the science of Stalin's dictatorship.

Finally, there is this, that is considerably more correct:

Our world is awash with dangerously stupid ideas, in rejection of evidence and serious science. Crackpots reign on the internet, of course. But worse, the very concept of expertise is under attack, Tom Nichols argues, risking that “eventually both democracy and expertise will be fatally corrupted, because neither democratic leaders nor their expert advisers want to tangle with an ignorant electorate.”

Yes. Most ideas of ordinary men (who are not real scientists) are stupid, and most of their desires are based on delusions. Most ordinary men are neither rational nor reasonable and believe in nonsense and proudly reject knowing rational evidence that they are mistaken. And "[c]rackpots reign on the internet".

But a considerable part of the reason is that most scientists rarely explain science to non-scientists - or indeed do so only if they risk to be dismissed for financial reasons.

And while I agree that "the very concept of expertise is under attack" I add that in Holland that attack started in the University of Amsterdam in 1978, when the official academic year was officially opened by a public lecture in which it was very explicitly insisted - literally - that "Everybody knows that truth does NOT exist".

The vast majority of all scientists and all "scientists" who were - financially quite well - employed by the University of Amsterdam embraced that notion until 1995 (when the political structure that ruled the Dutch universities from 1971-1995 was completely undone).

I also agree that "eventually both democracy and expertise will be fatally corrupted, because neither democratic leaders nor their expert advisers want to tangle with an ignorant electorate" - but I insist that has happened for the most part, and it has happened because - in my merely 50 years of experiences with science and scientists - it was pure propaganda that "Hell hath no fury like a scientist silenced": Virtually all scientists and "scientists" I have known about shut up as long as they were paid well.

So while I like that - at long last - scientists march for science, I must say that I do not expect much of them, although I would like to be mistaken.

2. North Korea’s Message for Trump: We Will Protect Ourselves With Nuclear Weapons (Video)

The second article is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

North Korea has a message for Donald Trump.

“If the United States encroaches on our sovereignty, then it will provoke our immediate counter-reaction,” Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told the BBC’s John Sudworth on Monday. “If the U.S. is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method.”

Han added that North Korea will continue to test missiles “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.”

I say. In fact - North Korea is a one-party dictatorship, and has about 25 million inhabitants - I don't see what else the "Vice Foreign Minister" could have said, but
the situation is very tense.

Then there is this:

Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a four-nation tour in Asia this week, also offered a warning, citing recent U.S. military actions in Syria and Afghanistan, CNBC reports.

“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” Pence said Monday in an appearance with South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn. “North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”

I suppose this also is a more or less normal reaction in the existing situation.

The following is not:

Despite the military movement, the U.S. has no plans to negotiate directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at this time.

“The only thing we need to hear from North Korea is that they are ending and ultimately dismantling their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program,” Pence told CNN.

The Americans should be willing to negotiate if they want to prevent war.

3. Trump's First 100 Days: More Frightening, or More Pathetic?

The third article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

There is a lot of chatter these days about the looming milestone of the “first 100 days” of the Donald Trump administration and how he measures up in presidential history. This trope goes back to Franklin Roosevelt’s first term, when he took office in 1933 amid the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in America history, and promised to get to work immediately to bring relief to millions of suffering Americans. He declared a bank holiday to stop the run on withdrawals and called Congress immediately into session to pass legislation to help farmers and the unemployed and create a federal jobs program.

If that is the background of the “first 100 days” baloney - and I did not know - it still is baloney.

Then there is this on Trump (who indeed cannot be compared with Roosevelt):

Back on the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump portrayed the nation as a desperate dystopian hellscape and promised his adoring followers that he would make America great again. But he he went beyond that. From NAFTA to inner-city crime to bringing back jobs to undocumented immigrants to undoing regulations and fighting ISIS, Trump promised to fix it all “very, very quickly.” Sometimes he’d add that it would “happen so fast your head will spin.”

Indeed, Trump’s pitch to his voters was that none of these were difficult issues and that the problem had been our “stupid” leaders who just didn’t know what they were doing. He famously said in his nominating convention speech, “I alone can fix it,” making it clear that he planned to do it all at once.

Hm. Since then he has learned that things are "more complicated" than he thought, or so he said. Also, I take Trump's statement that “I alone can fix it,” not so much as evidence that "he planned to do it all at once", but as evidence that he has megalomania.

But OK: There are the first 100 days of Trump. There is this on these days:

But presidents are generally not considered to have had a successful first 100 days without any major legislative achievement, particularly when their party controls both houses of Congress. And the great negotiator presented himself as someone who could make “deals” almost magically. Indeed, it was the single most important skill he allegedly possessed. He was so good at it he would make Mexico pay for the wall and singlehandedly renegotiate all the trade deals so thoroughly that our trading partners would give up all their jobs and profits and thank us for the privilege.

Unfortunately for the president, he does not have even one real legislative victory.
Really now? What about the nomination of the lawyer Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on April 7, last?! Was that not a "real legislative victory"?!

Finally, there is this:

According to the latest Gallup Poll, he has the worst average approval rating (41 percent) during this period of any president in that survey’s history, and by a margin of 14 points. Nonetheless, Trump says it’s been the most successful first 100 days in history, telling Fox Business News:

We freed up so much and we’re getting great, great credit for it. We have done so much for so many people. I don’t think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone has done nearly what we’ve been able to do.

To borrow one of his favorite phrases: That’s fake news. And it’s so profoundly delusional that it’s actually kind of sad.
I agree Trump's comment on his first 100 days was - like many other things he said - "profoundly delusional". But this means that Trump is not sane, and indeed I agree.

But if so, I do not think this is "
actually kind of sad": I think it is extremely frightening to have a madman as the most powerful man on earth.
4. Erdogan Leads His Country into the Abyss

The fourth and final article today is by Onur Burcak Belli and Maximilan Popp on Spiegel International:
 This starts as follows:

Nothing can hold them back. Not the rain, not the wind and not the well-armed anti-terrorism police. On Tuesday evening, several thousand demonstrators marched through Istanbul, a diverse group including students, pensioners, women in headscarves and punks, and many of them held up signs as they walked: "No to the presidency!" They also chanted: "Thief! Murderer! Erdogan!" And: "This is just the beginning. Our fight goes on!"

The protests began on Sunday, just a few hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed victory in the referendum that grants him significantly expanded powers and the demonstrations have become larger on each successive day since then, spreading to more than three dozen cities.
I doubt that "Nothing can hold them back" (also not: more repression?), but OK.
This is about the elections, which Erdogan won with a very small majority:
According to media reports, the country's electoral commission accepted up to 2.5 million ballots despite their not having been stamped in accordance with the rules. Election observers from the OSCE found significant shortcomings with the vote, outlined in a 14-page preliminary report that also noted the unfairness of the campaign leading up to the referendum. The vote itself, the organization found, also violated some aspects of Turkish law. The opposition has refused to recognize the results.
But if the opposition "refused to recognize the results" then the following is a rather odd fact, also in view of the claim with which this article started viz. that "nothing can hold them back":
For the time being, only a small portion of the Turkish population is rising up against the government, with a total of 20,000 people thought to have participated in the nationwide protests.
Note that there are nearly 80 million Turks. (I can think of one explanation, but I do not know it is correct: The Turkish police was - historically - quite severe in repressing any opposition.)

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

The vote last Sunday was the most far-reaching political decision made in Turkey's recent history. The constitutional amendments approved in the referendum essentially sweep away what was left of democracy in Turkey, completing Turkey's transformation from the republic of Atatürk into the republic of Erdogan.

Once the constitutional reforms come into force following the next election in 2019, the president will be able to pass laws by decree and dissolve the parliament whenever he sees fit -- and the office of prime minister will also be eliminated. It will mark the end of the separation of powers in Turkey. The president alone will make decisions regarding war and peace and he will have almost complete control over the judiciary.

Yes, that seems correct. There is a lot more in this article.

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